Mission Trips

Learning Haitian Creole

At the end of my 8th grade year we selected foreign language classes for our freshman year. Spanish would have been a good choice, and something I could have used on a daily basis, but instead I signed up for French. My friends were taking it and we all thought it would be fun to learn the "Language of Love." Well I survived four years of French in high school, and if you were in class with me, then you know that "survived" is an accurate description. To put it plainly, I wasn't very good - probably the worst in the class my senior year.

As if four years wasn't enough, I decided to take another three semesters in college to fulfill my foreign language requirement. I did much better in college - straight As. I even briefly considered minoring in French (ha, very briefly).

Little did I know that years later all of those French classes would help me with learning Haitian Creole, which is based largely on French, with influences from various West African languages. It has been one of Haiti's official languages, along with French, since 1961.

I've been studying Haitian Creole periodically since my trip in 2012. I thought I'd share a few of the resources I use. Learning just a few words can dramatically change your experience. I'd encourage anyone traveling to Haiti to at least watch the video above and try to pick up a few words to use while you're there.

HaitiHub - Online Haitian Creole courses

Sweet Coconuts Blog - Free resource and learning site for learning Haitian Creole

byki - Haitian Creole mobile app

Creole Made Easy Book -  A simple introduction to Haitian Creole for English speaking people




The Road to Port-de-Paix

Port-de-Paix is about a 6 or 7 hour road trip from Port-au-Prince, or a one-hour flight on a prop plane. I've been blessed to experience Haiti from both the sky and the bumpy road, and while the plane ride is a much quicker trip, the road trips have been my most treasured experiences. When you take the road to Port-de-Paix, you're able to actually see, up close, the country's landscape and people, both of which, are beautiful. You see towering mountains, turquoise ocean water, lush banana trees, and sparse pastures.

You see women walking the streets with baskets on their heads, kids playing soccer in vacant lots, people shopping at the roadside markets, teenage couples walking home from school, men whizzing by on motorcycle taxis, and cows grazing in the fields.

You pass through cities, small villages and countrysides. You travel on paved roads, rocky dirt roads, and through rivers. At one moment, you're stuck in a traffic jam, and the next, you're going 50 mpg on a dirt mountain road (with no guardrails) while the driver is honking and passing cars in every possible direction.

I added this YouTube video, because I think it captures a lot of what I mentioned. I hope in viewing it, you'll see this beautiful country in a new way.

The Haiti 323 Project Is Born


My first trip to Haiti in October 2012 was a remarkable experience. In some ways, it is hard to put into words. I felt both despair and hope. Deep sadness and great joy. Fear and peace. But, more than anything, I felt God's presence. He was there, just as He is here - whether we realize it or not.

I've visited Port-de-Paix three times on short-term trips. By going back to the same location, I have been blessed to become friends with Larry and Diana Owen, many Haitians - both youth and adults - and my fellow "Haiti Mateys" (other trip participants). It was on my 2013 trip that I felt called to do something more, although I wasn't quite sure what.

Through a series of conversations and many prayers, the Haiti 323 Project was born. The 323 stands for Colossians 3:23 which says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters."

I chose this verse, because it talks about the importance of working for the Lord regardless of occupation. I felt like this verse tied in nicely with the Haiti 323 Project's purpose of  providing vocational training, through sewing and apprenticeship programs, in Port-de-Paix.

The Northwest region of Haiti lacks many educational and vocational training opportunities. This project will help fill the gap by providing much needed training so program participants can secure good paying jobs to provide for themselves and their families. In addition to vocational training, the Haiti 323 Project will continue spreading the Gospel and showing God's love among the Haitian people.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]